Last week we talked about Lead Gen vs Ecommerce accounts and which is better.

A ton of agencies love ecommerce because of the scalable budgets and the ability to directly monitor sales revenue from your efforts. 

Ecomm can be a lot of fun, but only when it works. When it doesn’t work, when everything you do wastes money and nothing seems to help, it’s a nightmare.

The truth about Google Ads is that you can be the best ad manager in the world and still bomb on an account. If you’re managing an account and it’s not working, there is very little chance that other ad managers know a secret you’re missing that would unlock amazing success.

Great ad managers make good accounts great, but they can’t turn around an account that’s bombing for external reasons. 

Let’s take a look at some external factors that can improve performance when nothing else is working.

Ecommerce Growth Levers

You usually can’t save a failing account with good ad management, but you can definitely save it by advising your clients on ways to improve their marketing via other means.

If you’ve not done this before, here are some ecommerce growth levers you can look at when advising clients on their strategy.

Conversion Rate Optimization

This is the classic go-to for ecommerce and lead gen alike. Getting more conversions for the same budget is a huge growth lever for any account, but conversions in an ecommerce account are sales, not just leads, so it’s doubly helpful here.

There are a lot of companies that do CRO, but if you’re just going to advise on changes, here are some basic guidelines for your advice:

  • Anything that creates confusion for the user should be removed.
    This includes design elements that look different, hard-to-find customization menus on product detail pages, redirects, etc. You should also make it extremely clear what customers should do to get what they want. Don’t use fancy add to cart buttons or unique language. Don’t use weird navigation setups or anything flashy. Just show people what they expect to see and make it super easy to understand.

  • Increasing page load speed, especially between category and product pages and during checkout.
    They say that every second of load speed past 3 seconds decreases conversions by 7%. I don’t know if this is still accurate (it may be worse), but the basic principle is that if you decrease friction (anything that slows down the customer from paying your client), you increase conversions.

  • Use Tasteful pop-ups, promotions, and “Deals” pages
    Sales are a great way to increase sales if people are browsing an online store. They’re in a buying mood and if you can show them a great deal on something that’s hard to pass up, you can often get a sale.

  • Employ Urgency and Scarcity
    Piggy-backing on the above suggestion, your client can often get sales that wouldn’t have happened if they have a limited stock and reflect that on the site. If they have 50 left, it isn’t a great idea to show that, but if they have 10-20 or fewer, it can spark the need to buy now so the customer doesn’t miss out. “Lightning deals” and similar promotions can also be employed to add urgency to the purchase. “Buy now to save 30%” might improve sales, but adding a countdown timer with a couple of hours (depending on the traffic volume) can really help push the sale.

  • Offer Free Shipping
    Amazon ruined everything for ecomm stores. If your client charges $12+ for shipping on a product customers can get from Amazon with free 2-day shipping, you’re going to struggle to get sales. Sometimes your client can’t afford to eat the shipping costs and can’t add it to the products, but they can absorb shipping costs on orders over a certain amount. This is a common workaround, but customers don’t care about your clients’ costs, they care about their own costs. The lower the free shipping threshold, the higher the conversion rates can grow.

  • Show Customer Reviews
    Your client may not have reviews on every product, but if you’re able to show their reviews on some products (just like with their ads), you can increase conversions because customers feel safer seeing that others have purchased and had a good experience (classic social proof).

Increase Average Order Value
This is one growth lever that you can influence directly with ads by advertising bundles and promotions, but it usually has more to do with the store itself. Here are a few ways you can advise your clients to increase their AOV.

  • Display Related Products, “Frequently Bought With”, and “People Also Bought” suggestions.
    Any time you can suggest additional products that would go well with what someone is already buying, you should. Restaurants suggest appetizers, drinks, desserts, and sides to increase the value of each order and your clients can do the same, often to greater effect. 

  • Offer One-Click Upsells
    I’m not sure if this was started in the ecommerce world or if it was Direct Response marketers, but the one-click upsell revolutionized online sales. If you have a product that is frequently bought with or after another product (often a supplementary product), showing it on the order confirmation page with the ability for customers to buy it with a simple click of a button can be very effective. You already have their trust and they’re already in a buying state of mind, so giving them something else they want with almost no friction at all is hard to pass up.

  • Offer Bundles
    Offering bundles isn’t always effective, but if you package the right products together and it makes more sense to buy them together, you can often get a higher AOV because it feels like a lot to add 3 products to the cart, but adding one bundle and saving 10% feels easier and like you’re saving money! Win-win.


Leverage User Generated Content (UGC)

Times are weird. Remember when a kid couldn’t turn a camera on themselves and become a millionaire before they could drive? My old home videos should never be seen by anyone and would not have made me money. What a world we live in.

Regardless of how I feel about the exploitation of children and family life for the sake of making money (not a fan), you can’t deny the value in paying a vlogger-mom with 200,000 subscribers on YT and 500k on Instagram to use your client’s vacuum cleaner and talk about how great it is.

Influencers and content creators on social platforms and YouTube are growing audiences of all sizes and have already developed relationships with their followers. They have the “know, like, trust” journey down, so why try to do it again with the same market segment? Reach out to creators with audiences that would value your client’s products and have them talk about it to their audience. 

Running ads on YouTube may be a good way to increase awareness of some products or a particular brand, but it rarely holds a candle to the value of a trusted figure sharing something they’ve used with their adoring fans in a casual way and dropping a link in the comments.

Don’t Sleep On Branding

I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen an “Amazon-first” ecommerce store start a Google Ads account and expect to hit the ground running, only to hit a brick wall instead. 

They think that just because people who shop for a product on Amazon buy their stuff, people will also buy their stuff on their website.

The fallacy in this is that people who shop on Amazon aren’t buying their products because they like the company who makes the product, they’re buying because the product appeared in the search results and had good enough reviews with a competitive price. 

People who buy on Amazon trust Amazon, not your client. If you want to get sales from your client’s site, you’ll have to give people a reason to buy there instead of on Amazon. In addition to all of the things mentioned above, you’ll need to focus on building a strong brand that people recognize and can trust. Shopping ads won’t be enough. 

Ecommerce Pitfalls

The problems in ecommerce marketing outweigh the wins by a hefty margin. Everyone thinks it’s easy because they see others having success with it, but they just copy what others are doing without thinking about what their customers want and where they are in the brand-building journey.

Here are some pitfalls ecommerce stores make that hinder their sales and kill your marketing efforts.

  • Huge Sales Pages for Cheap Products
    This is actually done a surprising amount of the time. Companies pay copywriters for a big, long sales page and they make customers scroll to the bottom before they see a single CTA and the price. This is a decent idea if you’ve got a $497-$2000 course to sell and you need to prove your understanding of the problem and build trust before you can get someone to buy something that pricey.

    However, I usually see this with products that are $49 or less. Most people aren’t feeling torn about whether to buy a $49 product. A 30-minute sales pitch won’t convince them if they don’t want it, and making them scroll for 5 minutes certainly won’t help you. Just give them a product detail page and trust them to buy what they want. If a product detail page won’t convince someone to buy a product that is less than $50, a giant sales page won’t do the trick. Your problem is probably something else.


  • Competing With Yourself On Every Marketplace
    I get the lure of selling products on as many marketplaces as possible. The more places your customers can find your products, the more you can sell, right? The problem with this is when you start advertising on Google Ads and customers see your ad right next to Amazon’s ad, right next to Walmart’s ad, and so on.

    It’s a good idea to push your sales where you can, but make sure you know how the retailers or marketplaces are going to advertise to sell your own products and make sure people have a reason to choose your website over marketplaces if your ads are shown next to each other.


  • Low Average Product Value
    If an ecommerce company approaches you to have you advertise for them on Google Ads and you see that their highest-priced product is $50 or less, tell them no.

    The cost of ads are getting higher and higher, customers expect more and more, and you can end up with CPAs of $30+. If their profit margins are 35% or less like most ecommerce stores and you can’t get them conversions for less than $15, they’re going to be in a lot of trouble after your agency fees hit.

    Do yourself and them a favor and look at their best sellers, their average product value, and their highest product value. If you don’t have a good chance of turning a profit for them at a 2% conversion rate (might be wise to aim even more conservatively), don’t take them on as a client. It will only waste their money and make your agency look bad.


The other pitfalls I would mention are basically opposites of the growth levers. High shipping costs, not having reviews, ignoring the value of Branding, not testing UGC, not testing anything, etc.


Ecommerce clients can be a great source of growth and joy for a PPC agency, but they can also be a source of great frustration. I know I’m not the only marketer to struggle with an ecomm account so much that I think I’m bad at marketing or missing something big that others know.

If you keep these growth levers and pitfalls in mind, you should be able to help those clients succeed more and suck less, or not even take the clients as an ad management client at all.

You have the knowledge, you get to choose whether to use it and how.

If you’re curious about how I work with agencies or if you’re frustrated with your agency’s profitability or retention of clients or employees, feel free to reach out to me and I’ll see how I can help. I never charge for the first consultation and if I can solve it in 30-minutes, there’s no reason to pay for my services and you walk away happy.

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